Japanese TeX User Meeting – Support for Japanese in TeX (Live) – present state and future?

Tomorrow the Japanese TeX User Meeting 2015 will be held in Tokyo. Since I have come to Japan I have attended more or less every year this meeting, and in 2013 we could get the (international) TeX User Group Meeting to Tokyo and had a joint conference TUG 2013, which was a great success.

(update 2015-11-09: slides added at the end)

Japanese-TeX
During tomorrows meeting I will give a talk on Support for Japanese in TeX (Live) – present state and future?:

The support for typesetting Japanese in TeX, in particular TeX Live, has been improved over the last few years considerably, so that at the current point we can ask ourselves – what is next? This talk reviews a bit of the history of Japanese typesetting support in TeX Live, and discusses future development directions.

For those interested, here is a bit of an extended abstract.

With a set of Japan specific TeX engines, the Japanese TeX Users always had a hard time setting up a proper TeX environment. Besides compiling the programs for each new version again, users had to install packages from a variety of sources, which often involved complicated routines. Fortunately, due to the excellent support on the TeX Q&A these difficulties were manageable.

Compiling the Japanese TeX engines was first part of the pteTeX project, which adjusted teTeX to include also the required programs. Compilation was done by obtaining the source code of teTeX, plus patches that implement the Japanese TeX engines and support in driver programs.

After the end of development of teTeX, TeX Live became the main TeX distribution system, and ptexlive was born to adjust the TeX Live sources to include the Japanese TeX engines. But fundamentally the same procedure remain: Get the source code, patch in additional functionality, compile and install.

The last five years have seen a step-wise inclusion of various Japan-related programs in the main TeX Live source repository. Starting with pTeX (and pbibtex etc) and adjustments to dvipdfmx, followed by upTeX, and later on also (u)pmetapost, the main TeX Live source repository now contains all (with the exception of pxdvi) programs related to the Japanese TeX environment.

At the same time, developers of various packages started to upload their packages to CTAN, which automatically made these packages available in TeX Live.

Thus, the current status is quite satisfactory, since a normal TeX Live installation, without the need for any compilation, provides all necessary programs and packages. What remains a problem are inter-release updates of the binaries, when bugs in various engines are found.

Future developments

Besides the actual development of packages, and in particular luatexja, I see possible improvements in the following area:

  • bug fixes for engines
    Up to now tlptexlive repository was partly used to test new packages, but also to distribute bug fixes for binaries. We are working on a better approach based on texjp.org which separates bug fixes and experimental/testing packages.
  • more uploads to CTAN
    I can only ask all developers of packages to

    release often upload fast

    Normally updates from CTAN via TeX Live arrive at users within 2-3 days. Thus, if there is a bug in an uploaded version, it can be easily and quickly fixed. Please do not hold development version for long time, and force users to pick your packages from different places. In the long run it makes it more complicated for everyone.

  • pTeX-ng
    After a first rush of activity, we are now at a relatively inactive state. I don’t know what will happen with pTeX-ng, especially since it does not fit into the TeX Live source eco system easily due to a completely different build procedure and kpathsea library usage, but the future might show new directions.

Summing up, I am quite happy to see that both the Japanese community, as well as the Korean community, have now taken the step to make their achievements available in an easy and straightforward way for everyone using TeX Live, and I am sure that the future will bring further improvements!


The slides accompanying the talk can be downloaded here: texconf15-texlive-japan.pdf. I also talked briefly on CJK font integration for Ghostscript, these slides can be downloaded here: texconf15-cjk-gs.pdf.

1 Response

  1. 2015/11/07

    […] Japanese TeX User Meeting – Support for Japanese in TeX (Live) – present state and future? […]

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